The yellow Aisha was startled awake from her mid-afternoon
nap by the knocking at her door. Wearily, she slid off the chair that she was
sitting on, setting her book upon the end table beside her small table lamp. Blinking
herself awake, she rushed to the door and opened it.
"Hello?" she asked, still blinking away her tiredness.
"Neogram for Slaine," the blue Draik replied,
holding a folded piece of paper.
"That would be me," Slaine replied lightly, holding
out her hand.
"But isn't Slaine a bit of an... um, err... masculine
name?" the Draik responded, unsure if the "Slaine" that the Neogram was addressed
to was the woman before him.
Slaine replied with a half-smile and whispered,
"It's pronounced SLAW-na."
The Draik turned red for a moment as he blushed
in his embarrassment. Smiling weakly, he handed the yellow Aisha the folded
piece of paper and said, "This would be yours then." He took a step back and
stood patiently as Slaine unfolded the paper.
My dear granddaughter,
Please, do not be alarmed. I am currently
residing at the hospital. The doctors believe it's just Neo Flu, but because
of my age, they request that I spend a little time here. I know it is very much
to ask, Slaine, but would you be able to take care of my dear Kadoatie, Arabella?
I fear I might be staying here for a while, so I fear she may feel neglected
with no one there. Slaine, if you could meet me later today, I can give you
my Neohome key.
Slaine sighed. "Thank you," she said quietly
to the Draik and reached into her pocket. She extracted from her pocket a gold-colored
coin and paid the post-Draik his Neopoints. The Draik smiled and then happily
flew away as she closed the door.
She wandered blankly back to her chair and sat
down with a huff. It had only been a few days since her Grandmamma had sent
her a similar Neogram beginning with the same sentence, Please, do not be
alarmed. She had sent the Neogram to Slaine, saying that Slaine's great-aunt
Demona had fallen ill, the illness presumed to be Neo Flu then as well. Even
so, she was still in the hospital, having grown sicker rather than any healthier.
Slaine painfully reached for her book. Holding
dearly onto it, she thought, I shall need to pack some clothing as well...
* * *
"Oh, Slaine," grandmamma Mala, a brown Kyrii
with graying hair, wheezed from her sterile, white hospital bed at the Neopian
hospital. "I am so happy to see you, Slaine."
"Yes, I know," Slaine said, pained to see her
grandmamma in such poor condition.
"My key," grandmamma Mala said slowly, "is in
my jacket's front pocket. I am sorry, dear, but I cannot reach it..."
"Don't worry, Grandmamma," Slaine said with a
cheerful laugh to cover her sadness as she walked over to the coat rack and
slid her hand into the jacket's front pocket; hardly a second later, she had
pulled a light-weight, golden key that shimmered in the salubrious air, aching
to return home and unlock the single door that lead to its castle.
"Does Arabella have any new habits I should be
aware of, Grandmamma?"
"No, none at all," Mala said, still wheezing
slightly. "She'll remember you, dear... It has not been long since you visited
last. Her Petpet food is in the cabinet by the pantry, dear."
"Yes, I remember, Grandmamma," Slaine replied.
"How is Aunt Demona?"
Mala sighed. "She's been moved to critical care,
dear. They don't think it is Neo Flu any longer. They are still hoping she'll
recover, though, dear. So, please, do not worry."
Slaine smiled, trying not to show her grandmother
that she was, in fact, worrying. "I should be going now," she said quietly.
"I shouldn't leave Arabella alone for so long. Please, Grandmamma, feel better.
I'll be back tomorrow to visit, is that okay?" Mala nodded and Slaine smiled,
but as she began inching towards the door, the wholesome hospital air suddenly
seemed thicker with the new fear of the fate of her family.
"Thank you, dear," her grandmother said quietly
after her. "Please, take care of yourself."
* * *
By the time she reached her grandmother's house,
it was already late-afternoon and the high sun over Neopia was beginning to
set. Slaine still could not grasp the fact that it had only been a few hours
since the blue Draik had awoken her from her mid-afternoon nap.
After sliding the golden key into the placidly
adorned doorknob, she twisted it two-and-a-quarter turns to the right and pushed
the door inside. The scent of musty air drifted to her nostrils and Slaine sighed.
In the absence of great-aunt Demona, grandmamma Mala had apparently been unable
to keep up with the housecleaning and it had fallen by the wayside, forgotten
to the world.
Somewhat nervously, Slaine stepped into the darkened
house and closed the door behind her. In the darkness, she fumbled around for
Slaine jumped back, her heart pounding as a furry
shadow ran past her leg. "I'm sorry, Arabella," she called after the Kadoatie,
feeling sorry that she had grabbed its tail in her search for a light. Without
further complications, she found the lamp and flicked it on, illuminating the
She walked through the house, turning on all
the lamps as she passed them. She had never felt comfortable in very large,
empty places, and this Neohome was enormous, three stories with over twenty-five
rooms! It was even more terrifying at night.
When all the lights had finally been turned on
and she was satisfied, Slaine found a comfortable chair and leaned back in it.
She sighed, knowing that it would soon be time to feed Arabella. Funny,
she thought, I haven't even seen that Kadoatie since I came in here--and
even then I hardly even saw it! She shook her head and laughed a bit to
ease her growing discomfort and worry. It didn't work.
As she opened her book, a brand-new copy of the
latest Neopian Times bestseller, she couldn't help but feel that she would get
little reading done. After a few minutes, when she realized that she had read
the same sentence four times already, she closed the book and put it down. Sighing,
she stood up and went into the kitchen. As she filled Arabella's bowl with the
Fancy Petpet Food that she had found, she couldn't help but notice that the
Kadoatie was still nowhere to be seen.
She sighed once more and turned her eyes upon
the dark stairs. As she ascended them, she kept an eye out for any lamp that
she could find. Unfortunately, there appeared to be few upon the second floor.
She walked through the hall, whispering Arabella's name, but then, she stopped.
Slaine turned to her left. Upon an old wooden
table sat a brand-new Earth Faerie Doll. There was something... strange about
it, though. It looked like it was too big. It was shaped oddly. Its wings were
bigger than they should have been. Its head looked oblong, very much unlike
the traditional round heads of normal Faerie Dolls. Most notably, though, she
had never seen it before. And she had visited quite recently, too! Only a few
days before her great-aunt had gotten ill.
"Arabella," Slaine said, her voice echoing. "Arabella!"
She continued to walk through the house, the hall pitch-black. "Arabella!" Her
heart was pounding in her chest. The blood pulsed through her veins. She felt
terrified, ready for the Kadoatie to jump out at her--
She gasped, bracing for the unthinkable. But
nothing happened. She sighed. She had walked past a window and had seen her
reflection, that was all. Stop doing this to yourself, Slaine. There is nothing
to worry about. You've been here a thousand times. You know everything that
is here! What is the matter?
Her mind drifted back to the Earth Faerie Doll.
"Arabella!" she yelled once more, louder this
She closed her eyes and listened. She heard soft
purring. She tiptoed through the house, following the trail of purring. "There
you are," she sighed as she spotted the Kadoatie across the room that she had
just entered. She picked Arabella up and began walking back downstairs. She
anxiously longed for the light once more.
When they walked past the wooden table, she unconsciously
stopped once more. She lightly put Arabella down and shooed her towards the
stairs. Tentatively, she reached for the Earth Faerie Doll and lifted it from
Its surface felt rougher than the other Faerie
Dolls that she had held before. She lightly rubbed the pad of her paw over it...
"What?" she wondered aloud as the green paint began to peel off its dress. "Paint?
But Faerie Dolls aren't painted!" More quickly now, she began pulling off the
flaking paint--she gasped in horror and dropped the doll. It landed with a soft
thud upon the plush-carpet floor.
Breathing in horrid breaths, she knelt down and
picked up the Dark Faerie Doll. There was a sinister glare in its eyes. There
was an air of darkness around it.
Holding tightly onto the doll, Slaine ran down
the stairs and pulled open the closet door. She pulled out her grandmother's
basic shovel and ran into the kitchen, grabbing the first salt mote that she
could see. Without hesitation, she ran out into the backyard.
Running through the backyard, she entered the
woods that surrounded Neopia Central and threw down the Dark Faerie Doll and
the salt mote. She took up the shovel and began furiously digging. She had heard
of these things before--cursed, poisoned dolls!
Soon enough, she rested the shovel on a nearby
tree and lowered the Dark Faerie Doll into the pit that she had dug. Gathering
the salt mote, she scattered it all over the doll. Hardly half an hour later,
Slaine was packing the dirt down over the hole, making sure that it was unseen.
The last thing that she wanted was for someone to dig it up.
Pleased with herself, but still startled, she
grabbed the shovel and returned home.
* * *
"Hello, welcome to the Neopian Hospital," the
receptionist, a pink Zafara with a pleasant smile, said to Slaine the next morning.
"How may I help you?"
"I'm looking for a patient named Mala. She was
"Oh, you must be here to pick her up," the receptionist
"Excuse me?" Slaine asked, a confused expression
donning upon her face.
"The only patient named Mala admitted yesterday
is ready to leave. Overnight, she had the most astounding recovery. She's filling
out her paperwork as we speak."
"Thank you," Slaine said with a smile. A moment
later, she asked, "Can you tell me the condition of a patient named Demona?
Last I heard, she had been moved to critical care."
The receptionist fumbled through a stack of paperwork
before she answered. "You must be one lucky Aisha--she, too, had a miraculous
recovery last night and is being released."
Slaine smiled and answered, "Yes, I suppose I
am a very lucky Aisha." She sighed, turning from the receptionist, and began
walking towards a square gathering of chairs. As she sat down, she tasted a
bitter taste in her mouth and was reminded of the night before.